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March 12, 2014

Chesson Hadley


PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ Okay.テつ We welcome Chesson Hadley into the Media Center this morning at the Valspar Championship, Chesson coming off a big win last week at the Puerto Rico Open.
Maybe open up a few comments and just talk about -- you've had a couple days to reflect on the win -- that and about playing this week's event here in Tampa.
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Sure.テつ Last week was incredible to get the first win, especially as a rookie.テつ I think it was my 13th event.テつ Obviously I certainly felt like I'm good enough to win out here but I didn't expect to do it so quickly, like I might have to pay a little bit more dues before getting in the winner's circle.
I'm extremely grateful.テつ A fantastic event.テつ The weather was perfect, the course pristine.テつ I kind of set the bar low last week.テつ I was coming off -- you know, I made the cut at the Honda which was nice and I just wanted to play four rounds and I was 143rd out of 144 coming into this week and I knew probably there would be some Top-10s and I wouldn't end up getting in the event unless I Top-10'd myself.
That's kind of what I wanted to do and I just started playing great and had the lead going into the final round and, you know, just kind of used the momentum from earlier in the week to get in the winner's circle.テつ That was great.テつ I'm excited to be here.テつ This course is awesome.テつ Certainly a really strong field this week.テつ So, excited to be at the Valspar.
PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ Just what areテつ your goals now that you've won?テつ What would you like to do?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Short-term goal is with the win last week it moved me up to the 60s in the -- 63rd.テつ I need to be 50th by the end of the Valero Texas Open to get in the Masters.
Short-term goal, that's what I want to do.テつ I'd love to, you know, keep playing well and get in the Masters.テつ That would certainly be pretty special as a rookie.
But, you know, we're here to win another golf tournament and that's the goal this week.テつ I want to keep playing well and hopefully I can get some putts to go in and yeah, I'd love to win this one as well.
PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ Okay.テつ We'll just go with questions, just raise your hand.

Q.テつ Hey, Chesson.テつ I'm from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Q.テつ Obviously there's a lot of Georgia and Georgia Tech guys making some noise.

Q.テつ Is there any sort of rivalry between you guys or do you take note of that?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ You know, honestly, I don't know.テつ Maybe.テつ I don't feel -- you know, I'm playing with Harris on Thursday and Friday and I'm not going to go out there and try to beat him because he's a Georgia Bulldog.
That's not really what I'm thinking about.テつ Maybe a little bit.テつ Honestly, I love playing with the Georgia guys.テつ They're really good.テつ They've had some great success out on Tour this year with Harris and Kris Kirk and hopefully I'm not leaving anybody else but but everybody else seems to be playing well.
So, I mean I guess maybe a little bit but I'm not thinking of it, you know, as I'm out there, really.テつ Like I say, I love playing with the Georgia guys.テつ They're a lot of fun and obviously they're really good.テつ So, I feel like they elevate my game.

Q.テつ Any good natured ribbing or anything?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Of course.テつ Those guys like to the Tech Neds or something like that.テつ I don't know.テつ I'm from North Carolina so I have kind of the Duke-UNC rivalry in my blood.テつ There's always a little ribbing going on.テつ Never hurt anybody.

Q.テつ Had you not won Sunday, was it your plan to try to Monday qualify into this tournament?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ I think I was signed up for the Monday but, to be honest with you, I never really thought about it, especially after the first round.
I felt like everything was starting to click.テつ I never really even, you know, considered it and, you know, I'm glad I played well so I didn't have to worry about that because my flight didn't get in until about 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning.テつ So, a Top-10 would have been phenomenal and obviously the win was even better.

Q.テつ Has it been kind of a whirlwind so far, got in at 3:00 a.m.?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ It has.テつ I really don't know if it's hit me.テつ I remember, you know, waking up and thinking, you know, it's shocking, really, that I have won on the PGA TOUR and I'm 26 and I mean 20 years ago I was six years old thinking about this and it's happened.
I don't know why.テつ I don't really know if it's my job to be asking these questions why, why me, but I'm blessed.テつ I'm very thankful and, you know, like I said, I'd love to get number 2 this week.

Q.テつ Chesson, was there much of a learning curve going -- successful as were you on the Web.com coming to the big Tour, much of a learning curve?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Sure.テつ The Web.com does a phenomenal job of preparing you.テつ There's still a learning curve.テつ I think no matter how well prepared you think you are, there's always going to be one because Tiger Woods doesn't play on the Web.com Tour, Phil.テつ So you get used to that.
The courses are a little bit harder.テつ The greens are a little bit faster.テつ They're a little bit firmer.テつ Fairways a little bit narrower.
Courses are a little overall harder which is how you bet getter, you play hard courses and learn how the play these hard courses and get better by doing that, also by playing with better competition.
There's the learning curve there for sure but I think I certainly would not have won last week if it wasn't for last year, getting that experience and in a way, I kind of felt like last week was kind of -- had a Web.com feel, not from the publicity standpoint or the money or competition, kind of the way I felt the course was set-up.
I don't know why, I feel like I play tournaments really well when you have to go make a lot of birdies and last week I felt like that was one of those weeks and I think that's why I was comfortable and I played well was because I knew you had to go out there and make a whole lot of birdies.
I like doing that and it's fun doing that.テつ I think that's another reason why I had some success last week.

Q.テつ Also, I wanted to ask you what prompted you at age 6 to make the bold statement, "I'm going to win on the PGA TOUR"?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Well, I don't know if I was boldly professing that at the age of 6, but I definitely was -- I love golf.テつ I played all the other -- basketball and baseball and I was really good at those sports at a young age and I think I gravitated towards golf because I wasn't as good at it and I wanted to be good at it and my parents got me a set of Wilson -- you know, 7 piece set out, I had I 5-iron and driver and 3-wood and putter and I would go out and beat balls with my dad and we'd go play and down the fairway and I just loved it.
It got in my blood early.テつ And, you know, to be here 20 years later talking to you guys as a PGA TOUR champion is really special.

Q.テつ Was it watching a tournament on TV or something and who did you tell it to?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ You know, I don't really think it was that.テつ I think it was the sport itself.テつ I can't tell you -- there wasn't -- there wasn't anything specific about it that I loved.
I just -- there was just the whole nature of the game.テつ I just fell in love with it and, you know, my dad is a huge influence on me and obviously my wife is my best friend but he's as close as a friend as you have for me and, you know, for him to -- he played it, he never played it competitively or anything like that.
It was a time for us to spend, you know, spend together and we just had a blast doing it and I love golf and here we are.

Q.テつ Chesson, first of all, last time we saw you you were a father.テつ So, congratulations.
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Thank you.

Q.テつ And I didn't know, have you had a chance to play this track yet --

Q.テつ -- maybe in the past or have you played a practice round?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Just on Monday.

Q.テつ Talk a little bit about, because you touched on the fact that maybe the courses out here compared to the Web.com, you know, maybe a little bit tougher.
This is traditionally thought of as one of the tougher courses in the Florida swing.テつ Talk a little bit about this course this week and how you're going to approach playing.
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Sure.テつ You know, it's a big difference from last week.テつ This is a very difficult driving golf course and I was watching a little bit of the coverage last night going to sleep and I think 10-under won here last year.
You know, that obviously is through 72 holes.テつ There's a lot of pars to be made and I think this is more maybe a little bit of a grind and I picked up on that pretty quickly out here.
So, you know, this week is going to be a lot different from last week.テつ As I was saying, you go make a lot of birdies last week.テつ It's going to be -- I really need to be careful out here and stay patient because par is a phenomenal score on every hole out here.
So, you know, this is a phenomenal course.テつ You see a lot of the big name guys are here I think because they love this course.テつ I did a sponsor value this morning with James Driscoll.
He said this is one of his Top-3 favorite courses out here.テつ I think a lot of people would agree with that.テつ I'm excited to be here and if I can stay patient and make some pars and sprinkle some birdies in here or there, that would be great.

Q.テつ When you dream about something for 20 years and then it happens, was it easier than you thought it was going to be or harder than you thought it was going to be?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Nothing about this game is easy.テつ I think you can get in trouble quickly by saying stuff is easy about the game of golf.
I think I was surprised by how quickly it happened.テつ Typically as I have progressed through my career, you know, junior golf, amateur; college, mini tours, Web, not here, I've always had to kind of of pay my dues, kind of eat a little dirt before I get that success and that's what I think was so -- as I said, was so surprising, so shocking was I was able to do this as a rookie and it wasn't like I've been knocking at the door on the West Coast swing.
I had a great tournament in Vegas and I was in contention there but Webb had a five shot lead going into the final round.テつテつ Didn't really think I was going to catch Webb.
I think it would have been less shocking if I had been knocking at the door and been there two, three weeks in a row and then finally, you know, breaking through but it just -- I mean it just happened and it was really special and, you know, I'm excited to get home and be with the trophy.
I think that's when it's really going to set in.テつ I'm home with my friends and family and we can go celebrate and have a nice dinner or something.テつ I think that's really when it's going to set in.

Q.テつ What's really amazing if you look through the record books you can see hundreds of real good players that played out here on the PGA TOUR and never won once.

Q.テつ Quite an accomplish.
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Thank you.テつ Like I said, I'm blessed.テつ I love -- I think it's really a cool fact that I'm always going to have -- nobody can ever take that away from me.テつ I always will have that champion status.テつ That's really special.

Q.テつ I'm not aware of the math that's involved but to climb to number the 50, what do you think that's going to involve for you?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ You know, the field this week and next week at Bay Hill are as good as you see all year.テつ If I can keep playing well and Top-5 here and -- you know, when you're hot, you can kind of -- obviously you stay hot.テつ Hopefully we can let it ride and I think if I finish in the Top-5 -- I mean a win would do it for sure.
Just keep playing well and let the chips fall where they may.

Q.テつ What's your experience as Augusta National?テつ How many times have you been up there?
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ I've been out there three times.テつ One of the perks of going to Georgia Tech is that you get to play there just leisurely and we went in late March about this time and we would go play with some of the members who are past alum and boosters of the Georgia Tech program and that is as special of a place as there ever is, ever was.テつ It's awesome.
PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ Anything else for Chesson?テつ Wish you the best this week.
CHESSON HADLEY:テつ Thank you guys.テつ Glad to be here.

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